Bulls Open Up MACtion On Saturday Afternoon At Akron

Bulls Open Up MACtion On Saturday Afternoon At Akron


BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo women's basketball team (9-2, 0-0 MAC) will open up their Mid-American Conference slate on Saturday afternoon against the Akron Zips. The Bulls have won five of their last six games after downing St. John's on the road last time out.

Saturday's game will air live on ESPN3 with Michael Reghi and Jacki Windonon the call. The game can also be listened to live on ESPN1520 as Matt Mattia will get you ready for the game with the UB women's basketball pre-game show starting at 1:30 pm from inside James A. Rhodes Arena.

This marks the 47th meeting of all-time between the two programs with the Bulls holding onto the slim 24-22 edge in the series. The inaugural game between the Bulls and the Zips took place on Feb. 2, 1992. They have played at least two times annually since 1998-99. Buffalo has won three straight games against the Zips while averaging 83.3 points/game in those wins.

Buffalo closed out non-conference play with a road win at St. John's and will open MAC play on Saturday afternoon at MAC east foe Akron. The Bulls enter Saturday's game with a 9-2 record while the Akron Zips enter with a 6-5 overall record through their non-conference slate. The MAC opener will air live on ESPN3 on Saturday or you can tune your radio into ESPN1520 starting at 1:30 pm as Matt Mattia will get you ready for action with the UB women's basketball pre-game show.

The Bulls were able to close out non-conference play on a high note on Thursday afternoon inside a sold-out Carnesseca Arena as Stephanie Reid converted a layup and free throw with five seconds left to give UB the 73-72 victory over St. John's. The win for the Bulls was their biggest win under head coach Felisha Legette-Jack as the Red Storm entered the game #16 in the RPI polls, highest ranked team UB has beaten. Reid turned in her best performance of the season as she netted a team-high 16 points, five assists and four rebounds while netting the game-winning free throw. Junior Autumn Jones was electric off the UB bench as she netted 17 points and a career-best four steals while hitting a career-high four three-pointers in the win.

Entering her sixth season as the helm of the Bulls, Felisha Legette-Jack has turned into one of the best head coaches in the MAC as she has guided UB to back-to-back 20+ win seasons and Buffalo has won 17+ games in four straight seasons. Coach Jack will be aiming for win #100 at Buffalo on Saturday afternoon at Akron. Over her illustrious coaching career, Legette-Jack has notched 240 career victories while leading UB to their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015-16.

The Bulls have been dominant over the past four seasons against non-conference foes as they own a 41-14 overall record in non-conference tilts. Buffalo went 9-2 this season against non-conference foes, outscoring their opponents by an average of 15.8 points/game across their nine victories. The nine non-conference wins are the second most in program history as last season UB went 10-1 including a program record 10-0 start to the season. Buffalo has gone 19-3 in non-conference games over the past two seasons and have outscored their opponents by an average of 10.6 points/game. The UB defense also held 12 opponents to under 60 points in non-conference play over the past two seasons.

After claiming arguably their best road victory in program history against St. John's last time out, the UB women's basketball team checks in at #30 in the latest NCAA RPI poll that was released on Tuesday. The Bulls downed St. John's who came into the game at #16 in the RPI, the highest RPI team UB has beaten under head coach Felisha Legette-Jack. The Bulls are 9-2 overall this season with impressive wins over members from the Big East (St. John's), Big Ten (Nebraska), ACC (Clemson), Mountain West (UNLV) and Ivy League (Columbia). Last season, UB reached as high as 12th in the RPI polls after opening the season with a perfect 10-0 record.

The Bulls pride themselves on defense and they have turned into one of the best teams in the nation in steals. Buffalo currently averages 13.4 steals/game which ranks second in the MAC and 6th in the NCAA. The Bulls currently have six players that average over a steal/game while junior Cierra Dillard leads the Bulls averaging 3.5 steals/game which ranks 2nd in the MAC and 14th in the NCAA. Senior Stephanie Reid ranks second on the team averaging 2.3 steals as she has produced 161 career thefts.

Despite missing star point guard Stephanie Reid for four games earlier this season, the Bulls have been able to dish out their fair share of assists during their 9-2 start to the season. UB currently ranks 2nd in the MAC and ranks 17th in the NCAA in assists/game (18.9) as four Bulls are averaging at least 1.8 assists/game so far this season. Last time out, Buffalo collected 15 assists on 30 made field goals as Stephanie Reid led the way with five helpers in the last second win over St. John's. In a win over UNLV earlier this season, the Bulls were able to set a Division I program record with 28 assists on 29 made field goals. So far this season, the Bulls have notched five games with at least 20 assists and have recorded at least 15 helpers in all 11 games, proving that team work and sharing the ball equate to victories on the court.

The pesky Buffalo defense has been able to force an average of 23.2 turnovers/game so far this season as they have only lost the turnover battle twice through 11 games. UB currently ranks second in the MAC and 11th in the NCAA forcing 23.2 turnovers/game. The Bulls have taken advantage of their opportunities once forcing the turnovers as they have turned 255 total turnovers into 254 points (23.1/game). Last time out against St. John's, the Bulls were able to force 23 turnovers and they turned those into 22 points, winning the points off turnover battle 22-17. Over the past two seasons, the Bulls own a 19-4 record when committing less turnovers than their opponents.

Winning the battle inside the paint has been a key to the Bulls early season success as they have won or tied the paint scoring in nine of 11 games, including in each of the last eight games. They are 7-2 in the games when they win or tie the battle inside the paint on the year. Last time out, UB was able to own the 40-26 edge in scoring inside the paint as they downed St. John's. On the year, UB is averaging 33.3 points in the paint and an average of 38.7 over their last six wins.

This Buffalo squad is jammed full of experience and it starts with their senior class of five players, Stephanie Reid, Liisa Ups, Katherine Ups, Mariah Suchan and Cassie Oursler. This impressive senior class has accumulated 70 victories together and they are now the winningest senior class since the Bulls joined the MAC in 1998-99. No other senior class in the Bulls division I history have put together three 20+ win seasons, which this group is looking to accomplish this year with 11 more victories.

One of the keys to success each and every game for the Bulls is winning the rebounding battle. Last time out, the Bulls were able to hold a good rebounding team in St. John's to just 30 rebounds as they owned the 38-30 rebounding edge. On the season, UB is grabbing an average of 40.7 rebounds inclduing 14.1 offensive rebounds/game. Over their last five games, UB is averaging 41.4 rebounds while going 4-1 over that span.

Buffalo turned into one of the best teams in the country out in transition a season ago and with the athleticism on the roster this year, UB is near the top of the nation in fast break scoring once again. Through their first 11 games of the season, the Bulls seem poised to dominate this category all season long as they own a 143-42 edge in fast break scoring. Last time out, St. John's was able to hold the 12-9 edge in fast break scoring but UB was still able to win the game. The Bulls have held three opponents without a fast break bucket and they have won the fast break scoring category in 9 of 11 games this season. Buffalo has been able to win or tie the fast break scoring category in 37 of their last 43 games over the past two seasons inclduing in 29 of their last 31 wins. Buffalo owned the 270-111 edge in fast break scoring last year.

The Bulls have been known for their defense since head coach Felisha Legette-Jack took over the program six seasons ago which has helped UB produce back-to-back 20+ win seasons. Legette-Jack's goal for the team is to keep their opponent under 60 points as UB is 22-0 when doing so across the past two seasons. After leading the MAC a season ago in points allowed/game, the Buffalo defense has once again locked down opposing offenses as they are 3rd in the MAC in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 36.2% from the floor. The Bulls also rank 2nd in the MAC in scoring defense as they are allowing just 61.1 points/game during their 9-2 start to the season. Over the last three seasons, UB is 51-8 when holding their opponents to under 70 points and 22-0 when holding opponents to 59 points or less. Last season, UB was a perfect 17-0 when holding opponents to 59 points or less and are 5-0 this season when doing so.

The Bulls have three players within reach of 1,000 career points as junior Cierra Dillard sits at 918 points, Stephanie Reid sits at 904 and Cassie Oursler has 869 career points. Dillard went over the 900 career point plateau against St. Bonaventure and Reid did so last time out at St. John's. Dillard will look to become just the sixth UB player to reach the 1,000 point plateau during her junior season. UB currently has 23 members of their 1,000 career point club with JoAnna Smith being the last member to surpass 1K as she did so during the 2016-17 campaign. The Bulls have never seen three players go over 1,000 career points in the same season. The last duo of teammates to record 1,000 career points in the same season were assistant coach Kristen Sharkey and Mackenzie Loesing in 2014-15.

One of the keys to success for the Bulls over the past couple of seasons under head coach Felisha Legette-Jack has been shooting a better percentage from the floor than their opponents. Buffalo was able to earn their first win of the season when allowing their opponent to shoot a higher percentage from the floor as St. John's shot 47.1% compared to UB's 44.1%. When the Bulls shoot a higher percentage from the floor than their opponent, they own a 42-2 record over the past three seasons and are a perfect 8-0 this season when doing so.

Junior guard Cierra Dillard has turned into a fan favorite as her flashy passes and her pure talent has been on display all season long. The Rochester native is averaging 30.8 minutes, 12.3 points, 4.7 assists, 3.5 steals and 3.2 rebounds while making a team-best 22 three-pointers on the year. Dillard's game doesn't stop at her scoring as she is one of the best facilitators in the conference, averaging 4.7 dimes/game while also ranking 14th in the NCAA in steals/game (3.5). She uses her superior basketball IQ to get into the opposing teams passing lanes and uses her quick hands to force tons of turnovers for the Bulls. On the year, Dillard has recorded at least three steals in eight of the Bulls 11 games while notching six steals twice. Her defense has helped the Bulls get out in transition and score, leading to their 9-2 start to the season. The transfer has now recorded 918 career points and will aim to surpass the 1,000-point plateau later this season. She also earned MAC East Player of the Week honors for the first time in her career earlier this year.

Senior point guard Stephanie Reid has turned into the best floor general in the MAC over her impressive four-year UB career. Reid is posting solid numbers so far this season after suffering an early season injury. The senior is averaging 27.6 minutes, 8.6 points, 6.1 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals on the season while appearing in seven games. Last time out, Reid was able to lift UB to a road win over St. John's as she netted a layup and free throw with five seconds remaining as UB escaped with the 73-72 win. She finished the St. John's game with 16 points, five assists and fouyr rebounds. Earlier this season, Reid became just the second UB player and 23rd player in MAC history to go over 500 career assists and the first in the conference since 2014. This in an impressive feat for a player who missed half of her freshman campaign. Reid has continued her climb to become the Bulls all-time leader in assists as she sits just 59 assists shy of the program record.  

Fifth-year senior center Cassie Oursler is being leaned on heavily this season and she is proving that she is more than capable of shouldering the load down low for the Bulls. The Grand Island, NY native is having her best offensive season to date for the Bulls as she has scored in double figures in nine of 11 games this season. Last time out, Oursler had another strong game as she was able to produce 12 points, nine rebounds, a career-high three assists and two blocks in 32 minutes in the win over St. John's. On the year, she is averaging a career-best 13.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while shooting 50.0% from the floor. With an improved fitness level this season and a new offensive game plan, the senior has been exploiting her opponents not only down low but also in the open court all season long.

The Bulls have been waiting for sophomore Summer Hemphill to break out and prove she is a dominant post presence and she might be in the midst of that right now. The Buffalo native is becoming a reliable source of scoring and rebounding for the Bulls of late as last time out she netted six points and a team-best 10 rebounds in the win at St. John's. The athletically gifted post player has been great over her last five games as she is averaging 25.4 minutes, 9.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals while UB owns a 4-1 record in those games. Hemphill will have to continue her high level of play as the Bulls hit MAC play if they are going to reach their end goal, a MAC Championship.

Junior college transfer Autumn Jones has turned into a scoring threat off the Buffalo bench after opening the season as a defensive specialist. Jones was electric in the Bulls road win over St. John's on Thursday as she netted a team-high 17 points and notched a career-best four steals as she connected on 6-of-10 from the floor and 4-of-6 from behind the arc. The Indianapolis native drained a clutch three-pointer in the final minute against the Red Storm as she has posted three games scoring in double figures off the UB bench this season. Jones is averaging 15.0 minutes, 5.6 points, 1.6 steals, 1.5 assists and 1.1 rebounds through 11 games.

Junior forward Brittany Morrison has worked hard over her career to earn playing time for the Bulls and she has proven to be a key component to the UB success. Morrison has been receiving more playing time as of late and she has produced. Last time out, Morrison was able to come off the bench and net eight points, four rebounds and three steals as UB downed the Red Storm. The Ohio native is averaging 15.9 minutes, 6.9 points and 5.0 rebounds over the Bulls last seven games as UB has gone 5-2 over that stretch. On the year, she is averaging 5.6 points and 4.4 rebounds across 13.8 minutes.

Heading into the 2017-18 campaign, the Bulls will be returning one of the most experienced rosters in the MAC as they have a total of five seniors and 10 upperclassmen who have notched a lot of minutes over their careers. The Bulls rank second in the MAC in career minutes returning as UB returns 12,413 minutes of experience. Stephanie Reid is the most experienced returner for the Bulls as she has notched 2,720 career minutes running the UB offense.

1. Miami - 13,782        7. NIU - 9,661
2. BUFFALO - 12,413 8. BGSU - 8,073
3. CMU - 11,567        9. Ball St. - 6,852
4. WMU - 10,848        10. EMU - 6,452
5. Kent St. - 10,795    11. Akron - 4,964
6. Toledo - 10,590        12. Ohio - 3,877